Re-creating the 'cap in the sky' Visual connection: A major addition to the University of Maryland's School of Nursing will have a tower top recalling the octagonal penthouse at the nearby hospital.

Urban Landscape

January 25, 1996|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

FOR DECADES, the primary symbol of the University of Maryland's presence in downtown Baltimore was an octagonal penthouse atop the hospital's 1933 south tower on Greene Street.

That distinctive silhouette will be recalled in the design of a $30 million addition to the university's School of Nursing planned for construction one block away -- if state funds come through.

The main entrance to the new nursing school building will be marked by a seven-story tower with a top that echoes the octagonal cap of the hospital across the street.

The form was repeated to make a strong visual connection between the hospital and the expanded nursing school, explained Jonathan Fishman, director of design for RCG Inc., architect for the building along with Ballinger of Philadelphia.

"For me, as a child growing up in Baltimore, that was the image of University Hospital -- this octagonal cap in the sky where the two wings of the hospital crossed," Mr. Fishman said.

"As we worked on the design of the nursing school, it occurred to us that there was an opportunity to have a formal and iconographic resonance with the hospital across the street. We saw it as a way to show that the new building was part of the UMAB family."

As part of their initiative to transform the University of Maryland at Baltimore campus to a center for the life sciences, administrators have requested $30 million from the state legislature to expand the five-story nursing school at 655 W. Lombard St.

The addition is needed, they say, to accommodate recent growth at the school, which has 1,500 students and a full- and part-time faculty of 120. If construction funds are allocated this spring by the General Assembly, work would begin by the end of the year and be complete by early 1998.

"We desperately need a building that enhances our efforts to prepare nurses for a rapidly changing health care environment," said Barbara Heller, dean of the School of Nursing.

"Even though the school is ranked in the top 10 nationally, it is housed in outmoded, substandard facilities."

The nursing school addition is the latest of several large buildings that are dramatically altering the UMAB campus.

Nearly three times larger than the existing school, the 154,400-square-foot addition adheres to campus design guidelines that call for new buildings to have a distinctive base, middle and top, and for exteriors to be clad with brick and cast stone.

Mr. Fishman said the addition will be set back from Lombard Street to preserve an open space that separates the existing nursing school from the student union near the southwest corner of Greene and Lombard streets.

HOH Associates of Alexandria designed a sunken courtyard that will be one of the few green spaces on campus. Stonework above first-level windows will be inscribed with names of figures important in nursing history, such as Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale.

Interior features will include a 450-seat auditorium, a nurse-managed clinic and a multimedia learning center with interactive video technology linking the school with nine satellite teaching facilities around Maryland. Faculty offices will face north; most instructional spaces will face south.

Enrollment has increased 30 percent since 1990, said school spokeswoman Susan Straub. Ten percent of the students are male, and 31 percent come from minority groups, she said.

On the front of the building, metal panels will depict a St. George's Cross with a serpent, representing wisdom, entwined around a chalice. It's an enlarged version of the 1894 emblem on the pins given to nurses when they graduate -- a subtle way of enriching the exterior while reinforcing the building's link with the art of nursing.

The school was founded in 1890 by Louisa Parsons, a student of Florence Nightingale, and for many years all students wore caps called "Flossies."

Plan will guide growth in Charles Village district

Al Barry, former assistant director of Baltimore's planning department and now head of a planning firm called AB Associates, has been commissioned to develop a master plan to guide growth in the Charles Village Community Benefits District. Howard Cohen of the Chesapeake Group in Baltimore has been hired to complete a market survey.

Community workshops will be held at Oak Street AME Church, 123 W. 24th St., from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday; Mariner Health Center at 2700 N. Charles St., from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and the Benefits District office, 14 E. 25th St., from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 3.

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